Once Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson began rolling out their COVID-19 vaccines in the US, unless you had your head in the sand for the past four or five years, you just knew people would take sides on whether or not to get the jab—for whatever reason. And that has certainly been the case.
But from our perch on the fringes of the accounting profession, what we were waiting for was how the largest public accounting firms in the land would address Rona vaccines and whether they would put any type of mandate in place for employees to go back into the office or to client sites.
Sure enough, starting in late August, new vaccine policies starting trickling out at the Big 4—first at Deloitte, then at KPMG, PwC, and EY. At KPMG, management told employees that the firm would require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 PCR test administered within 72 hours prior in order to enter a KPMG US office, effective Oct. 4.
Then the Biden administration yelled from the mountaintops that businesses with 100 or more employees had until Jan. 4, 2022 to make sure their staff are either vaccinated against COVID, or submit a negative test weekly before entering the workplace, according to CNBC. Unvaccinated employees were supposed to begin wearing masks indoors at the workplace on Dec. 5.
But OSHA put the breaks on enforcement and implementation of the requirements last month, after the US Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit halted the policy pending review, according to CNBC. Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt, in an opinion for a three-judge panel, said the requirements were “fatally flawed” and raise “serious constitutional concerns.”
While this all plays out in court, one KPMG director in Houston had to get something off his chest about the firm’s vaccine policy. In a post on LinkedIn Dec. 3, Casey Hinson wrote that during a recent webcast, “our CEO [Paul Knopp] said that our firm wants to be the most inclusive place to work, where everyone feels welcome. He then explained (and I am paraphrasing) that we have to discriminate against certain people because the federal government told us to, implying that we make too much money from them to not comply.”
He also wrote that “my firm has instructed me (through countless hours of ethics and integrity training) to speak up with courage when something does not align to our values.” The vaccine policy obviously isn’t something Hinson agrees with, as he continued: “My advice to my leadership is to follow the values you state you have. Do not comply or even say you will comply. Maybe you are playing a game of chicken, thinking the rules will die out in the courts, but in the meantime you are causing people duress and hardship in their personal lives and sending a message to younger generations that it is ok to be unethical if you make enough money and you can blame it on someone else.”
Hinson’s full post is below. And he hasn’t deleted it:
Whether you like or don’t like what he wrote, I think we can all agree that the dude’s got some balls calling out his employer in a public forum like LinkedIn.